Paying for Private School

Compiled by Dianne R. McCann
Parents of school-age children now have more choices than ever when it comes to how they want their children educated. However, for parents interested in sending their kids to private school, one of the biggest considerations remains—how to pay for it?
If you’re among the parents asking this question, here’s some good news. According to the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) website, “While everyone will agree that private school education is not cheap, it doesn't have to break your budget. Affording a quality education does take some planning, and most families employ several strategies to keep the costs within reach.”
Typically, for private schools, you can find financial aid and tuition assistance in three forms: need-based financial aid, merit awards, and tuition payment plans and tuition loan programs.
The amount of aid you may be eligible for can vary greatly from school to school, often depending upon the size of the school’s endowment, its tuition costs, and its philosophy of awarding aid.
Therefore, NAIS counsels parents to talk directly with the school’s financial aid officer. This is the best source of information for that particular school, as that person “can explain the full range of options that [the school] offers and may be able to provide some information on the limited outside funding sources available.”
In addition, NAIS notes that “each school may offer different strategies and may have different policies. It is important to ask each school about the specifics of [its] various options and see how these options fit within your financial planning.”
For more information about finding financial aid, including loan and tuition payment plans, for your child’s private school education, visit the NAIS website,

Local Scholarships
Families living in the Baltimore area also have local resources for scholarships to attend private school. Here’s a look at five organizations that offer private school scholarships.


The Baltimore Educational Scholarship Trust (B.E.S.T.) encourages, supports, and increases educational opportunities for talented African-American students from the Baltimore area who are also economically disadvantaged.
A very important advantage that B.E.S.T. offers goes beyond the money. The B.E.S.T. staff members are available to help families navigate what is often a complex application process. They offer to walk parents through the process step-by-step, either individually or in small groups.
According to its website, “At the heart of our mission, we work day-to-day to help academically talented African American children gain entry to 22 outstanding independent schools located in the greater Baltimore area.”
Specifically, the B.E.S.T. staff members engage in activities that include:
Providing program information;
Supporting admissions activities at member schools;
Providing two testing opportunities annually for students;
Providing a summer enrichment program for newly enrolled B.E.S.T. sixth, seventh, and eighth graders;
Spearheading financial aid weekend workshops;
Enabling motivated young learners to access study skills and test-taking workshops;
Providing one-on-one counseling for parents of academically talented children, including deadline reminders and help with completing documents; and
Providing ongoing program support.
The scholarship money raised by B.E.S.T. comes from its appeal to local corporations, foundations, and individuals. These funds are then supplied directly to its 22 member schools to support their financial aid budgets. A sampling of the member schools includes Boys’ Latin School, The Jemicy School, Notre Dame Preparatory School, and St. Paul’s School.
For a complete list of member schools as well as more information about B.E.S.T., visit its website,, call 410-752-2225, or send an email to The Baltimore Educational Scholarship Trust is located at 808 N. Charles St., Suite 200C, Baltimore, Md. 21201.

Children’s Scholarship Fund Baltimore

The two private schools that my children attend are top notch. My wife is a kidney transplant recipient—and our budget is far past borderline. The financial assistance we receive from Children’s Scholarship Fund Baltimore is a tremendous help for us as we attempt to make ends meet.—B.Z., CSFB parent
So reads one note from a parent recipient of the Children’s Scholarship Fund Baltimore, posted on its website. Designed to help lower-income families send their children to the private and parochial schools of their choice, the Children’s Scholarship Fund Baltimore (CSF Baltimore) provides privately funded, partial scholarships for elementary-school children in grades kindergarten through eight. Scholarships are for Baltimore City residents only.
As of last spring, CSF Baltimore helped more than 490 students attend 70 private and parochial schools. Tuition among these schools average $5544 per year, and the average CSF scholarship is $1759.
Regarding the selection process for scholarships, CSF Baltimore policy states: “In keeping with our philosophy that all children, of every ability and aptitude, deserve a chance at a quality education, selection for our scholarships is made at random. Parents must put their names on the waiting list, and as funds become available we select families at random from the list. Selection is by family rather than by child so that all siblings enjoy the same opportunity.”
And, in order to be eligible for a place on the waiting list,
Baltimore City residents first must comply with the following:
Children must be entering kindergarten through grade five for the school semester beginning in the fall.

Children entering grades one through five must currently be enrolled in public school.
Children coming from either private or public preschool are eligible.
Children entering kindergarten in the fall are eligible even if their siblings are in private school.
There is also an income requirement. According to its income eligibility table for the 2007-08 school year, a family of four earning up to $20,650 is eligible for a scholarship covering up to 75 percent of the school tuition. Subsequently, an annual income of $20,651 to $38,203 can get up to 50 percent, and an annual income of $38,204 to $55,755 can get up to 25 percent. Also, each family must pay at least $500 annually toward tuition.
For more information about the Children’s Scholarship Fund Baltimore, visit its website,, or contact Paul Ellis, executive director, by calling 410-243-2510 or sending an email to CSF Baltimore is located at 2300 N. Charles St., Baltimore, Md. 21218.

The Archdiocese of Baltimore
To help make a Catholic school education more affordable to families, the Archdiocese of Baltimore offers several tuition assistance programs through local Catholic schools. Here are four scholarship programs.
Parish Tuition Assistance.
Catholic schools with parish affiliations often have access to funds awarded by the parish to the school for disbursement. Apply for these funds directly through each local parish school.
Archbishop's Lenten Appeal.
The biggest priority of the money donated to the annual Lenten Appeal is for tuition assistance for students who may not otherwise be able to afford a Catholic education. More than $600,000 in scholarships, aid, grants, and other assistance is disbursed. Additional funding is also available for children with learning disabilities through the PRIDE (Pupils Receiving Inclusive Diversified Education) Program and Harambee, a special program for African-American youth. Apply for tuition assistance funds directly through each local Catholic school.
Partners in Excellence.
By appealing to corporate leaders and foundations for funding, Partners in Excellence responds to challenges facing Baltimore's inner-city Catholic schools. This program builds corporate partnerships with these schools, broadening their base of financial support, particularly in the form of scholarship assistance grants. Twenty Catholic schools currently participate in this program.
Parents can contact the schools directly to apply. For more information about Partners in Excellence including the list of schools involved, visit the website, or call 410-625-8452.
Lawrence Cardinal Shehan Scholarship.
Former Archbishop of Baltimore Lawrence Cardinal Shehan realized that rising education costs might preclude financially disadvantaged inner-city youngsters from receiving an education in Baltimore City Catholic elementary schools. And, in 1974, the Lawrence Cardinal Shehan Scholarship Fund was created out of this concern.
This scholarship is available to students attending the following schools: St. Ambrose Catholic School in Park Heights, St. Bernardine Catholic School in West Baltimore, Fr. Charles A. Hall Elementary School in West Baltimore, Fr. Charles A. Hall Middle School in West Baltimore, SS. James & John Elementary School in East Baltimore, and St. Katherine School in East Baltimore. To apply for the Lawrence Cardinal Shehan Scholarship Fund, contact these schools directly.
For information about all of the scholarships available through the Archdiocese of Baltimore, visit its website,, or call 410-547-5555 or toll-free 866-ARCHBALT. The Archdiocese of Baltimore is located at the Catholic Center, 320 Cathedral St., Baltimore, Md. 21201.

Knott Scholarship Funds
Knott Scholarship Funds provides aid to academically talented Catholic students to help them continue their education in a Catholic school within certain geographic areas of the Archdiocese of Baltimore. The Knott Scholarships are awarded to students in grades five and up, through college level.
Specifically, according to its website, “On the elementary level, these scholarships are awarded for full tuition in grades five through eight at a Catholic parish elementary school. Secondary scholarships pay full tuition at a Catholic high school, and college scholarships are available to the three Catholic colleges in Maryland.”
Begun in 1981 by Henry J. Knott, Sr., a Baltimore-born, Roman Catholic businessman and philanthropist, these scholarships are available to students attending Catholic schools in Baltimore City and Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Frederick, Harford, and Howard counties in the Archdiocese of Baltimore. At the college level, scholarships are available to students attending the College of Notre Dame of Maryland, Loyola College in Maryland, and Mount Saint Mary's University.
In order to qualify for a Knott Scholarship, a student must either be baptized Catholic or be a convert officially received into the Catholic Church. For more information about the Knott Scholarship Funds and the eligibility requirements, visit the website, call 410-779-1225, or send an email to In June 2008, Knott Scholarship Funds moved its new location, 1340 Smith Ave., Suite 200,
Baltimore, Md. 21209. Information about the Knott Scholarship Funds is also available on the Archdiocese of Baltimore website.

Carolyn D. Bradley Scholarship

Awarded through the Institute for Educational Advancement, the Caroline D. Bradley Scholarship recognizes exceptionally gifted middle school students who have demonstrated academic and personal excellence.
Caroline D. Bradley Scholars receive a four-year high school scholarship that covers academic fees, including tuition and books. And, while it is merit-based, according to the Institute for Educational Advancement website, “it targets those exceptionally gifted young people who need assistance in finding the most appropriate high school or experience challenges that prohibit attending an appropriate school,” whether it is a private or parochial school. To be eligible, applicants must be in seventh grade and submit a portfolio.
Launched in 2002, the Caroline D. Bradley Scholarship was first awarded to five students from the greater Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay areas. The scholarship has since expanded to several states, including Maryland. Currently, 15 scholarships are awarded each year. In addition, scholars enjoy the fellowship of other recipients, and each year they meet for a three-day seminar to discuss issues of global importance and personal relevance.
For more information about the Caroline D. Bradley Scholarship, visit the website, or call 626-403-8900. The Institute for Educational Advancement is located at 625 Fair Oaks Ave., Suite 285, South Pasadena, Calif. 91030. Information about the Caroline D. Bradley Scholarship is also available on the Archdiocese of Baltimore website. BC
©Baltimore's Child – October, 2008